By on June 13, 2019

It was downright amazing how fast the proposed merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance collapsed. Considering the auto group’s messy state, there may have been no alternative. While Nissan’s unwillingness to support the merger is often cited as a chief reason in FCA’s backing out, it seems the Italian-American company was similarly spooked by internal strife within the alliance.

Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard addressed the matter on Wednesday during the automaker’s annual meeting in Paris. He told shareholders that the French government’s inability to act was what ultimately led to Fiat Chrysler backing out of the deal, while openly lamenting the missed opportunity.

“This project remains, in my head, absolutely remarkable and exceptional,” Senard said. “Frankly, I am saddened.” (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2019

Image: Nissan

Two proxy advisory firms have reportedly encouraged shareholders to vote against reappointing Hiroto Saikawa as Nissan’s chief executive. While it’s relatively uncommon to see voting research providers issue such an overt recommendation, it’s not unheard of.

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) suggested shareholders vote against Saikawa at Nissan’s annual general meeting later this month, citing his closeness to Carlos Ghosn as a liability. According to Reuters, the firm believes the automaker should try to distance itself from the recent past as much as possible.

“When the company needs to break from the past and build a strong board with fresh members, the reelection of Hiroto Saikawa, who has been on the board for 14 years and worked closely with Carlos Ghosn, does not appear appropriate,” ISS said in a Friday research note to investors. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2019

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee said it will schedule a hearing on June 20th regarding the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back automotive efficiency standards. The decision comes from Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Environment and Climate Change Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY) — all of whom are in clear opposition to the suggested plan.

The groups will hold a joint hearing to discuss Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and carbon pollution regulations affecting light duty vehicles as they relate to the current administration’s plan to effectively freeze efficiency targets between 2020 to 2026.  (Read More…)

By on June 11, 2019

The relationship between alliance partners Renault and Nissan remains incredibly strained. We’ve documented the souring of this corporate relationship closely since November, starting with the arrest of former Nissan chairman and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, but the partnership’s new chapter is a bit more confrontational. Of course, the relationship trouble started long before that.

Still in the midst of a corporate power struggle, Renault recently decided to block Nissan’s board reforms — possibly in response to the Japanese automaker not supporting a possible merger between the French automaker and Fiat Chrysler. Regardless, the Alliance now appears to be in real jeopardy, with neither side interested in cooperating. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa appears to be hip to this fact, claiming the two sides need to take steps to stabilize and reinforce the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance or risk it dissolving completely.  (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2019

Nissan and Renault’s strained relationship is well documented at this point. And yet the scribes keeping tabs on the matter must now dip their quills in fresh ink, as a new chapter is ready to be written. Following the arrest of Carlos Ghosnindustrial scandals, a subpar earnings report, and more headaches, Nissan intends to adjust its corporate structure while passing some internal reforms.

However, Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard recently issued a letter to the automaker saying the company would abstain from voting on the issue. As Nissan’s adoption of the reform requires two-thirds approval, Renault could easily block the plan with its sizable stake in the company. Nissan politely calls the automaker’s stance “most regrettable,” but execs in Yokohama must be seething.  (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2019

The automotive industry is in turmoil. There’s an industrywide push toward electrification that has yet to prove itself as truly profitable, volume seems to be tapering off in the developed world, and emissions regulations aimed at improving air quality are operating counter to existing consumer tastes. As a result, automakers are scrambling to find the best path forward.

In 2017, that path involved encouraging the new U.S. president to roll back Obama-era fuel economy mandates, thus providing some breathing room and staving off fines as automakers began to realize they wouldn’t be able to meet tightening targets. The administration listened, leading to a proposal that would effectively freeze mileage standards at about 37 miles per gallon — rather than the previously decided 54.5 mpg — by 2025.

However, California and a coalition of supportive states claim they won’t be going along for the ride. This group says it will maintain the old standards, regardless of what the White House says. The staredown has automakers worried; they’ve now banded together to issue a letter asking both sides to calm down and keep talking.  (Read More…)

By on June 4, 2019

As perviously reported, Fiat Chrysler is currently hard at work, hoping to impress Renault to a point where it will pull the trigger on possible merger. FCA is now in talks with the French government, which owns 15 percent of Renault, hoping it will also find the 50/50 proposal agreeable.

Concessions are already being made. FCA has agreed to France’s request to give the government a seat on an prospective eleven-member board, which also holds four seats for Renault and one for Nissan. Rumors have also suggested that the automaker is considering moving its headquarters to Paris to appease the country.

While France appears to be somewhat receptive, Renault appears to be taking things to the next level. Following a week of discussions with FCA, the company announced it would be taking the rest of the day to give the matter serious consideration.  (Read More…)

By on June 4, 2019

Volkswagen has been flagrantly displaying new pickups at trade shows for a couple of years now, and with good reason. Domestic trucks have grown very large. In 1993, you could still purchase the Ford F-Series in a format where its maximum length did not exceed 197 inches. Today, the F-150 gets no smaller than 209 inches with a standard cab. Meanwhile, the now mid-sized Ranger, sold only in SuperCab and SuperCrew guise, grew from to 181 inches in overall length to a whopping 211 inches within the same timeframe.

The supersizing of the North American pickup created an interesting opportunity for manufacturers, and Volkswagen took notice(Read More…)

By on May 30, 2019

With pickups and crossover vehicles serving as the lifeblood of domestic manufacturers, General Motors is setting aside $24 million for its Fort Wayne truck assembly plant. While the investment isn’t expected to result in any job creation, it does aim to boost production volume of the new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra in Allen County, Indiana.

According to GM, combined sales of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab pickups, which launched last year, were up 20 percent in the first quarter of 2019 versus the year prior. This isn’t surprising, considering new versions of popular models typically see an uptick in sales, but General Motors says it anticipates another sizable increase in demand over the second quarter and wants the facility to be ready.  (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2019

Like all automakers, Volvo is keen to promote itself as a cutting-edge manufacturer, and now has a new tool in its arsenal to impress tech-obsessed shareholders. Thanks to a corporate partnership with Varjo, the brand says it will begin implementing the latest in VR headsets to help streamline development. However, Volvo’s plan is more concerned with augmenting our existing realities than creating new ones.

By using Varjo’s new XR-1 headset, the automaker believes it can manufacture plausible portions of augmented reality littered with virtual obstacles and encounters that are as real to the driver as they would be to the car — without putting either in any legitimate danger. This is ultimately supposed to allow the company to effectively test real vehicles sporting autonomous hardware while subjecting living subjects to the same experience. But the full depth of these simulations has yet to be explored.  (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2019


Nissan Motor Co’s premium brand, Infiniti, will relocate back to Japan as part of the automaker’s commitment to restructuring its business in a post-Ghosn existence. The luxury arm was moved to Hong Kong in 2012 in order to better prepare itself for entry into the Chinese market. However, Nissan now says Infiniti needs to move closer to home in order to promote greater efficiencies and enhance collaboration with the core brand.

Considering most of the R&D work stayed in Japan and Chinese growth has been slow, representing about one-tenth the annual volume Cadillac sees in the market, this is likely wise decision. Infiniti claims it can maintain its focus on China from Japan while also prioritizing America — where it sells far more vehicles. Meanwhile, Nissan also hopes to regain control over its own operation after posting a rather ugly earnings report earlier this month. The financial hurt is expected to spill over into next year.  (Read More…)

By on May 24, 2019

Save for one article about adorable baby ducks, we’ve dumped on Nissan all week. Circumstances being what they are, there wasn’t much of an alternative.

Between a dismal earnings report showcasing a 45 percent decline in annual operating profit for the year ending in March, a forecasted 28 percent drop in profits for this year, corporate strife between the automaker and top shareholder Renault SA, and the ongoing legal troubles with former chairman Carlos Ghosn, it’s been a bad few months.

Nissan’s share price is also in decline for some strange reason, and, following a negative outlook from S&P, Moody’s downgraded the automaker’s credit rating from an A2 to an A3. That’s right, one entire notch lower. That clinches it. Nissan is officially done forever. If the 2008 financial crisis has taught us anything, it’s that you can absolutely trust rating agencies to be arbiters of the future.  (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2019

Over the last six months, automakers have announced roughly 38,000 job cuts as part of global restructuring efforts. While such things are typically part of the normal ebb and flow of the industry, the ebb could be a prolonged one as manufacturers seek ways to mitigate the high cost of tech and figure out what their businesses should look like in the 21st century.

A litany of other issues are impacting jobs. China’s economy turned out to be less stable than presumed, trade tensions have escalated in practically every major market that builds cars, and most of the developed world appears to be nearly tapped out in terms of sales growth.

As a result, analysts are growing concerned that the layoffs we’ve seen thus far are just the beginning. But they’re not the only ones. Industry insiders are also willing to admit that times are changing — and rather drastically.  (Read More…)

By on May 21, 2019

While it’s difficult to muster sympathy for giant corporations, the trade war current raging between the United States and China has left many stuck in an industrial limbo. Automakers want a bigger slice of the global market, but putting your eggs in either country’s basket will result in repercussions from the other.

We’re not saying this to promote some kind of commiseration for multinational companies; rather, it’s simply to remind everyone of how the auto industry has to conduct its business. Frequently, carmakers must play both sides. Toyota, already one of the world’s largest automakers, knows this better than anyone, and new documents shed light on some of the cloak-and-dagger aspects of maintaining its high-volume position.  (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2019

On Tuesday, Volkswagen announced its plan to assemble 600,000 electric vehicles utilizing the brand’s MEB platform at two plants in China. The facilities, said to be located in the cities of Anting and Foshan, will help bolster EV volume after the completion of VW’s Zwickau plant in Germany — which the company previously claimed would manufacture 330,000 cars annually.

While that facility is nearing completion and supposed to be up and running before 2020, there’s no firm timeline in place for China. But that’s the least of the issues Volkswagen must solve in order to make this dream a reality.  (Read More…)

Recent Comments

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